MALTA, NY — After Troy and Burnt Hills played out a twelve-inning marathon game during the regular season, the Division II Class A championship game was for the Flying Horses and Spartans.
Fittingly, it was a one-run game, decided by a big hit from Emma Thompson.
The Flying Horses (20-2) clinched the Class A crown with a 1-0 victory over the Spartans (13-6).
“It’s been a great season so far. The best part is we can get back to training,” Troy coach Sean Geisel said. “I couldn’t be prouder of this group of girls. . They’re so resilient. Seeing them improve and work together; it means so much to us.”
That big hit from Thompson, Troy’s first baseman, came as she was leading in the bottom of the third inning. On the first pitch she saw, the elder sent a ball over the left field fence, giving the Flying Horses a 1-0 lead on the solo home run.
“I hit for the contact. I’m never like, ‘I’m going to yard today.’ I did not expect that. Especially since the last time I faced this pitcher, I was 0-for-3. I didn’t expect it at all,” Thompson said of his first career college home run. “I’m a first pitch hitter. When it’s there, I rock on it.
“I’m so proud of Emma. She works so hard and has been such a positive member of Troy softball since seventh grade,” Geisel said. “She’s such a great leader for us and she’s achieved such great success at this moment. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Olivia DeCitise pitched a full game, a five-hit shutout, with 16 strikeouts. The junior left-hander struck out nine of the first ten batters she faced, with just one walk interrupting that stretch.
“We put our hearts, everything we had into it. We train six days a week. We wanted to do seven, but the coach said it was too much. I just want to train and get better,” DeCitise said. “I was always going to end up like this, with just one or two runs.”
Burnt Hills threatened, getting two of his five hits in the top of the fourth inning. But with two outs, DeCitise got Jess DeLaFleur out to Olivia Ashline at second base to escape the jam.
The Spartans also had traffic in the fifth inning, an error and a single, but DeCitise got away with it by retiring Soph Commisso.
In the top of the sixth inning, DeCitise again worked a two-runner, two-out situation by getting McKenna Hickey on strikes.
“It’s really nerve-wracking, but I have a lot of faith in Liv and our team,” Thompson said of the 1-0 lead. “I’m never really scared. It’s just like, that’s what we have to do.
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Katie Rhodes also pitched a full game for Brunt Hills, allowing just one run on the home run. The second-year right-hander allowed just four hits and one walk, while striking out nine.
Danielle DeBonis went 2-for-3 at home plate for the Spartans, while Carli Ewing was 2-for-4. Chi Benamati reached base all three times she came to bat, hitting a single, a walk and a hit per pitch.
Olivia Ashline, Katie Pryor and Kierra Laranjo each singled in the game, in addition to Thompson’s outburst, accounting for Troy’s four hits.
The Section Championship race was little more than just the Class A plate for the Flying Horses. During the regular season, Troy went 17-2. Their only losses were to fellow Suburban Council Class A teams Averill Park and Burnt Hills. The 2-1 loss to Burnt Hills on April 6 came after going 12 innings, with a ghost runner scoring the deciding run.
After beating Mohonasen 7-0 in the quarter-finals, Troy edged Averill Park 5-3 in the semi-finals.
“I was,” DeCitise said if she was looking for redemption. “I came for [them]. I was like, ‘I want this team and I want this team.’ And I got it and we came back and showed them.
“We needed redemption,” added senior receiver Kierra Laranjo. “In all honesty, we were on a redemption tour, between the semi-finals against Averill Park and that game against Brunt Hills, who we lost to in twelve sets. Now that I beat them 1-0, it’s an incredible feeling.
Troy will next play a sub-regional game against the Section 10 champion on Thursday June 2 at Luther Forest Athletic Fields – the same venue as Thursday’s league game.
“The chance to play in the States, especially in the final year, I can’t wait to see how far we can go as a team,” Laranjo said.
“It was incredible. I did it for my elders,” DeCitise added. “They are everything to me and I wanted that for them. I wanted them to be able to take these patches wherever they go.
TROY 1, BURNT HILLS 0
Luther Forest Athletic Grounds
BURNT HILLS 0-0-0-0-0-0-0 — 0-5-0
TROY 0-0-1-0-0-0-0 — 1-4-1
WP: Olivia DeCitise; Vinyl album: Katie Rhodes
HR: Emma Thompson (T)